Lockout ends as employees mark 6 years since Manchester workplac - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lockout ends as employees mark 6 years since Manchester workplace shooting

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A memorial ceremony was held Wednesday at Hartford Distributors in Manchester. (WFSB photo) A memorial ceremony was held Wednesday at Hartford Distributors in Manchester. (WFSB photo)

As beer distributor workers prepare to head back to work following a nearly two month lockout, they marked six years since a former employee killed eight coworkers in a mass shooting.

Union representatives said Hartford Distributors employees were back on the job at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The hope is that contract negotiations will resume on Thursday.

"We’re happy to be back. We wanted on the job the whole time but we got locked out so we really didn't have much of a choice,” said HDI employee Ronnie Brown.

The company shut its doors on more than 100 workers during contract negotiations, a battle that began after workers union contract expired on April 30.

On Wednesday, HDI opened its doors to workers once again, but without a permanent deal in place.

A ceremony was held on Wednesday morning at the Hartford Distributors Memorial Garden in Manchester.

The garden is just off of Chapel Road.

"We loved all of them, and we wish they were here, but we need to remember them for always," said Ross Holander, Hartford Distributors CEO.

As the mourning and remembrance continues, so does a lockout between the employee's union and the company.

However, that's expected to end Wednesday night regardless of ongoing negotiations.

More than 100 employees were locked out since the beginning of June.

The Teamsters Local 1035 has been negotiating with the company over its contract, which expired on April 30.

As a result, HDI locked the doors when its employees showed up for work. Temporary workers were brought on in the meantime.

While workers said they feel HDI has turned its back on them, the company itself has not commented on the lockout.

However, Hollander said there was no disagreement that could keep all of them from coming together on such a somber occasion.

"This transcends anything else that's going on, and it's a very sad day, and I'm glad that everyone, including all of the employees, got together with us," Hollander said.

An outpouring of support made the day a little easier for loved ones, friends and colleagues who surrounded the memorial site.

"They're in my heart everyday, but this just brings back everything because you see the families and the emotions come up a little stronger," said Christopher Roos, HDI union representative. "It's tough."

There's no word on whether the Aug. 3 date was intentionally picked.

"It's a blink of an eye," Roos said. "Every morning I think of the eight individuals that were shot. Every morning I say thank you that I'm alive and everybody else that survived is alive, and I say a prayer for the families every morning."

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